A Lite History Of Christmas Lights

“Is your house on fire, Clark?” - Aunt Bethany

“No Aunt Bethany, those are the Christmas lights.” - Clark Griswold

Believe it or not, the origin of Christmas lights actually date back far before the invention of electricity. In 17th Century Germany, people started decorating their homes with candles to celebrate the holiday season. Despite the dangers of covering wooden houses and highly flammable trees with open flames, the tradition caught on.

Shortly after Thomas Edison patented the lightbulb in 1880, his business partner had a great idea to promote the invention. Edward Hibberd Johnson manufactured a string of 80 red, white and blue light bulbs, and placed them on a tree in his parlor window. The tree was on a rotating pedestal and it caught the eye of everyone who passed, including several reporters that later covered the new phenomenon.

 A decade later, electric lights replaced candles on the tree in the White House and in the homes of most wealthy families. By the 1920’s, electricity was widely available and the cost of lights was low enough that they were mass produced. While there have been many advances in lighting technology, many of the classic bulb shapes and patterns are still seen in stores today.

In 1923 another brilliant Christmas tradition was born and, once again, Washington DC had a part in its popularity. A massive tree was erected on the lawn of the White House and it was decorated with hundreds of strands of electric lights. On Christmas Eve, a local choir performed, as President Calvin Coolidge flipped the switch to light the first National Christmas Tree. This may not have been the first tree lighting ceremony but it was arguably the most popular, at least until a decade later when Rockefeller Center began their own annual celebration.

 Now there are literally hundreds of public tree lighting ceremonies in New York alone and most of them happen this first week of December. Here are just a few of the most popular:



6:00 PM - South Street Seaport

8:00 PM - Lincoln Center



5:00 PM - Tavern on the Green

5:00 PM - Brookfield Place (Luminaries)



6:00 PM - Washington Square Park

7:00 PM - Rockefeller Center



2:30 PM - Wall Street

6:00 PM - Bryant Park



12:00 PM - 8:00 PM - Winterfest in Tuckahoe, NY


If you want to host your own tree lighting ceremony in your home or business, our Elf Squad would love to help make it happen. We even work with local choirs and carolers, plus our Elves are always happy to sing some Christmas songs while decorating. We offer a wide range of Christmas Trees, such as the ever-popular 6.5' Feels Like Home Pine with White Lights. We also offer Christmas Garland, Christmas Wreaths, and Christmas Light rentals. Call the Santa Line at (347) 669-1263 so one of our Elves can help make your holidays spectacular! This season don't sweat it, rent it!

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